This refreshing, verdant English pea and watercress soup is the perfect base for a zesty crab salad. Chef Sarah Heller of Napa’s Radish Leaf Cuisine folds sweet Dungeness crab with Meyer lemon, crème fraîche, and a host of delicate spring herbs before mounding atop each serving of the soup. Any lump crabmeat or cooked, chilled shrimp would also work.
Slideshow:More Cold Soup Recipes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 small celery stalks, diced
1 garlic clove, smashed
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3 cups whole milk, divided
4 pounds fresh English peas, shelled (about 5 cups or 30 ounces shelled peas)
2 bunches watercress (about 4 ounces), rinsed
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice, divided
1/2 pound cooked Dungeness or other lump crabmeat
Pea tendrils and freshly ground black pepper, for garnish (optional)
How to Make It
Heat oil in a large saucepan over low. Add onion, celery, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté until onions are translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Add 2 cups milk; bring to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.
While vegetables are cooking, prepare a large bowl of ice water and bring a large pot of water to a boil over high. Add peas to pot, return to a boil, and cook until peas are bright green and just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove peas with a slotted spoon, and immediately plunge into ice water. Return water in pot to a boil, add watercress, and cook until bright green and wilted, about 1 minute. Plunge watercress into ice water. Drain peas and watercress; set aside peas. Squeeze watercress to remove as much water as possible.
Combine peas, watercress, and remaining 1 cup milk in a blender. Process on high until smooth. Working in batches if necessary, add onion mixture to blender; process on high until smooth. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and white pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
Whisk together crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon chives, 1 tablespoon dill, tarragon, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a medium bowl. Gently fold in crab. Chill until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Stir remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice into soup. To serve, pour 3/4 cup soup into each bowl, add one large dollop of crab salad in center of soup, and drizzle with oil. Garnish with chives, pea tendrils, and black pepper, if desired.
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